Schmidt, 92, also had harsh words for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the EUobserver reported. He called both Sarkozy and Merkel "foolish" in their dealings with each other and said both have an "exaggerated craving for recognition."
The former chancellor's use of the phrase "Wilhelmine pomposity" in an interview with the magazine Cicero was designed to sting. Kaiser Wilhelm III led Germany into World War I, which ended in overwhelming defeat, followed by economic ruin and the rise of Hitler.
The recent relationship between France and Germany has been tense. Merkel and Sarkozy have different personal styles, and Merkel has also been pushing hard for austerity measures to deal with the economic crisis.
Schmidt, who served as chancellor from 1974 to 1982, and former French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing enjoyed a close relationship.